National Fishing Advisory Council

The National Fishing Advisory Council (NFAC) was established in 2018 to provide advice to the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, specific to the responsibility of the Australian Government, on emerging issues facing Australia’s commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishing sectors.

NFAC provides a valuable opportunity to provide information and advice from a cross-section of Australia’s seafood and fishing industries on contemporary issues affecting Australia’s commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishers.

Terms of Reference


The purpose of the National Fishing Advisory Council (NFAC) is to provide the Australian Government Fisheries Minister with information and advice on fisheries and aquaculture issues and associated national level legislation and policies.

NFAC’s key role is to provide information and advice from a cross-section of sectorial participants on contemporary issues affecting Australia’s seafood community – Indigenous, wild-catch, aquaculture, recreational and post-harvest sectors – particularly with regard to Commonwealth fisheries.

NFAC does not represent the sole mechanism for engagement and consultation with government on fisheries and aquaculture matters.


NFAC will provide advice, specific to the responsibilities of the minister, on:

  • emerging issues facing Australia’s Indigenous, commercial and recreational fishing sectors
  • initiatives to foster investment, growth and sustainability
  • strategic priorities.

Role of the Fisheries Minister

The minister will attend meetings where possible and may appoint a proxy. Liaison with the minister will be through the NFAC Secretariat, unless otherwise advised.

The minister has discretion to review and amend these Terms of Reference at any time.

Role of the chair

The chair will be independent of any one particular sector or interests and will be determined by the minister. The chair will be responsible for:

  • presiding at all meetings and, with the support of the secretariat, ensuring the business of the meeting proceeds effectively
  • reporting on NFAC’s deliverables to the Australian Government, as required, and 
  • coordinating a position on key issues.


In addition to the chair, there will be up to 14 members of NFAC. Members will be appointed by the minister for their expertise, understanding of fisheries and aquaculture issues, geographic representation and ability to consider the long-term interests of the industry.

Members, including the Chair, can be appointed for a term of up to three years. Members, including the Chair, may be reappointed.

Membership is on a voluntary basis and does not create a relationship of employment or agency between participants and the Commonwealth.

Secretariat support

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment will provide secretariat support including:

  • liaising with the minister, chair and participants to identify meeting dates
  • preparing and distributing meeting notices and agendas within agreed timeframes
  • ensuring each meeting has an effective agenda
  • recording and distributing a summary of each meeting as soon as practical after each meeting, and
  • making travel arrangements for members where required.

Member and meeting protocols

Confidentiality – NFAC business is to remain confidential. This does not preclude members from discussing key matters with their constituents, however the confidentiality of deliberations during meetings should be maintained.

Conduct – Members will conduct themselves with respect and integrity, and respect the diversity of views of all participants. To ensure development of relationships and continuity of discussions and knowledge, Members who miss more than two consecutive meetings should reconsider their ability to effectively participate and their membership.

Meeting frequency – NFAC will meet up to twice a year (and where appropriate in conjunction with industry conferences and forums).

Agenda – Agendas will be developed by the Secretariat in consultation with the minister and chair.

Workplan – NFAC will be invited to develop and work from a work plan that outlines key deliverables and timeframes that will articulate the short, medium and long term outcomes sought.

Invited participants/observers – NFAC may invite, on an ad hoc basis, observers and other stakeholders to participate in meetings where relevant. This may include other Australian Government departments, ministers or subject matter experts.          

Reporting/record of meetings - The secretariat will record and distribute meeting minutes after each meeting.  The secretariat will use emails and the NFAC team site to share documents and encourage out-of-session collaboration between NFAC members and the secretariat.

Expected lifespan and review

NFAC will continue to operate until 30 June 2023 when the department will review the performance of the forum and provide advice to the minister.

Other matters

NFAC members will be required to abide by all agreed conditions of appointment.

Endorsed ToR

Version 1.0


Version 2.0


NFAC Members

  • Professor Colin Buxton, Chair
  • Mr Brett Cleary
  • Ms Annie Jarrett
  • Mr Stan Lui
  • Mr Adam Martin
  • Ms Jo-anne McCrae
  • Ms Leonie Noble
  • Ms Veronica Papacosta
  • Mr Mark Ryan
  • Ms Erica Starling
  • Ms Heidi Walker
  • Ms Katherine Winchester
  • Mr Jonas Woolford

Record of meetings

There have been five meetings of NFAC.

  • Meeting 1: 30 November 2018, Parkroyal Melbourne Airport
  • Meeting 2: 6 March 2019, National Convention Centre, Canberra
  • Meeting 3: 5 April 2019, Rydges Capital Hill, Canberra
  • Meeting 4: 24 September 2019, Parkroyal Melbourne Airport
  • Meeting 5: 19 May 2020, via teleconference


At the first meeting of the National Fishing Advisory Council (the Council), the Assistant Minister for Agriculture tasked the Council with identifying priority challenges and opportunities facing the seafood and fishing industries, and developing a plan for industry and government to address these priorities.

Seven priorities were identified:

  • Relationship building between commercial, recreational and Indigenous fishing sectors
  • Access to resources and resource sharing
  • Future proofing the industry, including through attracting workers to fishing
  • Social licence to operate
  • Developing a national approach to fisheries policy and management
  • Ensuring a consistent approach to valuation of each sector
  • Availability and transparency of information for use in management decisions.

Discussion on priorities

Through effective cross-sectoral collaboration, members worked through the identified priorities—better articulating the issues for each sector, identifying common ground and developing ideas for a cross-sectoral approach to addressing them.

An outcome document was completed that outline the Council’s agreed positions on these priorities.

The Council will have a key role in developing the National Fisheries Plan and the priorities document will contribute this.


For any enquiries about NFAC please contact the NFAC secretariat or by post at:

NFAC Secretariat, Fisheries Branch
Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment
GPO Box 858
Canberra ACT 2601

Last reviewed: 22 January 2021
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